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$80,000 Settlement Reached Over Dropped Casket

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GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - An $80,000 settlement has been reached with a West Michigan funeral home following a claim that a woman’s casket was dropped, sending her body tumbling onto the ground.

The settlement with Ivy K. Gillespie funeral home in Grand Rapids was entered in court earlier this week.

Family members say funeral home staff was removing the casket carrying 67-year-old Ellnora James’ body from a hearse outside Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in November 2010 just before her funeral service was to begin, when somehow the coffin fell and broke open. The woman’s body fell onto the ground.

James’ son, Dean Libbett, said there was “no dignity” and “no remorse.” He says the family learned something was wrong when staff asked for new clothing for James.

Libbett told WOOD-TV that family members learned something was wrong after funeral staff contacted the family asking for new clothing for James. He said funeral staff requested the clothing because there was a spill, “Not saying that the spill was my mother,” said Libbett.

Funeral home representative Crystal Whittington said she was remorseful about the situation and the staff apologized to the family.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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